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Thursday, January 8, 2009

New Year 2009

A 5-million show. With a theme of Creation. 12-minute never-before-seen fireworks. 15 months of planning to showcase the world's greatest pyrotechnique display. 1.5 million Sydneysiders and tourists from all over the world. Nobody does the New Year's celebration the way Sydney does!


The first time I've witnessed Sydney's New Year Fireworks was in 2002. At that time, I was with my cousins, at a certain bridge in the City, far away from where the fireworks was but we can still see the fireworks nonetheless, and feel the spirit of the new year coming in. At that time, it was just us cousins with bottles at hand, laughing and drinking while watching the spectacle above cameras, no mobile phones, no hi-tech gadgets...our eyes solely watching, our minds capturing every sparkle and putting each "photograph" into our memory. It was one of my most cherished experiences when I visited Australia for the second time. It was remarkably beautiful.


This year, as much as I'd like to spend New Year's at home (like I always do), I decided to take the Husband to the City to see the 2009 Fireworks. Since I have cherished memories of how Sydney celebrates New Year, I'd like for him to experience it too. So on new year's eve, off we went to Mrs. Macquaries Point, hopeful to get a good spot.

Before leaving home, I prepared at little something on our dining table so the house "can welcome" the new year too. I got this tradition from my mom--gathering up 13 fruits for prosperity. She also told me to have a bowl of rice with coins and another bowl with garlic cloves in it. According to her those are all symbols of prosperity and money.

We arrived at Mrs. Macquaries Point, a little before 3pm. Thank goodness for our friend Jon for being early or else, it would took us ages to get inside. By the time we got in, the good vantage points were all taken. If not for Jon patiently roaming around the place, we wouldn't be able to get a spot that has a little bit of view of the Sydney Opera House and Harbour Bridge.

For the next eight hours, we hung out there and waited. The sun shone brightly, most people sunbathe. Us? We setted up our umbrellas and tripods to shield us away from the sun. The waiting was long but playing with our cameras and watching Big Bang Theory on my iPod helped to pass the time.

We also made friends with some of our "neighbors". We were surrounded mostly by tourists (I kinda find it funny to say "tourists" when I myself feel like a tourist here sometimes) from Germany and UK. When they asked us where we're from, they actually thought we were tourists too and that we're visiting Sydney just to spend new year's here.

We brought sandwiches, chips and bottles of water. Chris bought beer. We drank water and beer, ate a bit. But we were never really hungry. For some reason, we somehow lost the appetite to eat. Maybe it was because of the heat, and we're a bit tired from carrying our gears. Or maybe we're just anxious to see the fireworks.

At 9pm, the Family Fireworks lit up the sky for about 7 minutes. It was followed by the Harbour of Light Parade wherein 55 vessels made their way around Sydney Harbour. The ships illuminated emblems which represented this years theme: CREATION.

Quarter to midnight, we got ourselves and our gears ready for the nth time. Cameras and lenses, check. Tripods, check. Handycam, check. Excitement and antipation, check!

Note: Chris and I never really used our tripods though. Initially, Chris was to use a tripod but he gave it up and stood up with me and moved around. Hence, all our fireworks photos were handheld. Maybe if we had a more comfortable vantage point, we could've maximized our resources but we had to do with whatever space we had that time. additional second)...and the fireworks began!!!!!!!!!

This year's theme was CREATION which was designed to encourage everyone to think of where they came from, where they are now, and where they are going, as individuals and as a community.

The best part of the fireworks is always the finale where the Harbour Bridge is enveloped with a myriad of colors and sparkles.

And by the end of the fireworks production, the CREATION symbol was finally revealed: A SHINING SUN.

As I watched the finale unveiled before me, it reminded me of this bible verse:

Then God said, "Let there be light"; and there was light. - Genesis 1:3

I have initially compared the New Year 2008 fireworks to this year's celebration and thought that last year's was more grand (because last year was Sydney's 75th anniversary, so why not?) but as the last bit of the New Year 2009 Fireworks unfolded before my very eyes, I realized that no matter how many times I've seen Sydney's New Year Fireworks, each experience will always leave me in awe, because Sydney makes sure that each celebration is beautiful and spectacular in its own way.

We left for home at nearly 2am. As we were at Hyde Park, we saw a Kebabs Station still open and finally we felt really hungry and so our first meal for the New Year was a Beef Shawarma. Our train ride home was crazy! There was so many people going home and there were delays but we were all in high spirits so it wasn't so bad. At exactly 4am, we were home.

For more fireworks photos, click:

Chris and Ivy Sanchez's New Year 2009 Fireworks Collection

Playing with Shutter Photoblog

Jon Dael's awesome photos

Jon Dael's New Year's Eve Countdown

Some tips to enjoy the New Year's Eve celebration in Sydney, Australia:

  • New Year's in Australia is Summer season, so wear lightweight clothes. To be more sure of what the weather will be on the day of the fireworks, check
  • Wear shoes if you will be hanging out at the park to protect you from dirt, drink spills and broken glasses
  • Plan well by checking websites concerning the celebration.
  • If you plan to hang out at no-entrance-fee vantage points, be early. Some venues open at 10am.
  • Bring food and beverages. Alcoholic drinks in some parks are not allowed.
  • Bring something that will entertain you while waiting (i.e. playing cards).
  • Be ready for big crowds in the City at this time. Even train stations are congested.